Particularly in an election year, religion is a hot-button topic. So leave it to writer-producer-actor-comedian and all-around opinion-maker Bill Maher to choose this fall to release Religulous. Directed by Larry Charles, who created controversy with Borat just a few years back, the film is being marketed as “an uproarious nonfiction film about the greatest fiction ever told.” Who better to help give a sneak peek at the film than Maher himself, who has this to say of the production:
Since starting on “Politically Incorrect” in 1993, it has been my pleasure over the last decade and a half to make organized religion one of my favorite targets. I often explained to people, “I don’t need to make fun of religion, it makes fun of itself.” And, then I go ahead and make fun of it too, just for laughs.
With religious fanatics like George Bush and Osama bin Laden now taking over the world, it seemed to me in recent years that this issue—this cause of debunking the man behind the curtain—needed to have a larger, more insistent and focused forum than late night television. I wanted to make a documentary, and I wanted it to be funny. In fact, since there is nothing more ridiculous than the ancient mythological stories that live on as today’s religions, this movie would try to be a real knee slapper. Unless, of course, you’re religious, then you might not like it.
Who could I get to direct me on such an epic quest? In reality, there was only one man, and his name is Larry Charles. I hope that together we fulfilled that quest. Which really isn’t that hard, considering that comedically speaking, the topic of religion is pretty much hitting the side of a barn.
As a comedian, religion has always interested me—it was the single easiest subject to make jokes about. I think that tells us something: comedians look for things that don’t make sense, that are illogical.
Even as a young comedian, routines I did that got the biggest laughs and got me invited back on “The Tonight Show” were the religious ones— like the one about being half-Catholic and half-Jewish and bringing a lawyer into confession: “Bless me father for I have sinned— and I think you know Mr. Cohen…”
Politics is a rich area, but even politicians, although they promise some ridiculous stuff, don’t approach the level of, for example, the Mormon practice of promising couples a planet to rule over in the after life if they have a really good marriage on earth. They give you a planet—kinda like when someone gives you a certificate that says a star has been named after you—except here, they really give you the star!
Join me in the final battle between intelligence and stupidity that will decide the future of humanity. Coming soon to a house of false idols near you.
Religulous hits theaters on October 3, 2008. In the meantime: Check out the Summer 2008 edition of MovieMaker, on stands in late July, for a full interview with Larry Charles, or visit http://disbeliefnet.com for updates.